A Lifestyle Editor on How Personal Items Can Inspire You To Decorate in New Ways
Good HousekeepingAmanda Garrity, Associate Lifestyle Editor, loves color and loves smart storage design. It’s no clearer than in her apartment on New York’s Upper East Side, where she aligns her organizational needs with the pleasure of display. It’s a colorful and relaxing space with plentiful but meticulously organized nooks for comfort items like seasonal candles and holiday decorations (even more important now that she works from home every day).
Amanda recently shared with writer Audrey Wachs how the stories of two beloved objects – a new one and one she’s been dragging around for years – reflect the style of her space and why personal items can regularly inspire you to decorate in new ways.
AW: How did you turn your apartment into a place where you really feel at home, especially right now?
AG: Now that I am working from home, it is so important to have a space that is not cluttered. You have to find a way to work with the space you have, and most people in New York have so little space! I live in a flexible room, so I had to be very creative with, for example, using [see-through shelving] as partitions without loss of natural light.
It’s also important to have a space that truly reflects your personality. I really like the very feminine styles, pink, white – I like this light and bright look.
How intentional is the layout of your book collection?
I like to use aesthetic books like this to decorate. In New York, I think people avoid books because they can just look cluttered, but I want to inject some color into my space and books can be a cost effective way to do it. It’s also something you can use – the cookbooks have gorgeous colors, but inside you have all of these great recipes. I have a fairly large collection, but I’m also selective about what books I bring home – fiction books that I can read on a Kindle, and that’s fine with me. It’s worth having books that are really beautiful or have some sort of personal meaning.
I see you have a brand new book on your desk with a tropical cover. Can you tell me about it?
I got this book at an event at the Lilly Pulitzer store (now closed) on the Upper East Side. This is a very beautiful coffee table book, put together by Lilly’s daughter, and it goes through the history of the creation of the brand by Lilly in Palm Beach, Florida. It includes images of stores and shift dresses in different prints from years ago.
They had an artist [at the event] who painted the print of Lilly inside the book. Whether you’re the biggest Lilly fan or not, this is one of those brands that just has a very specific look. There are lots of bright pinks and neon lights, whites and big flowers – and it really embodies the Palm Beach style. It’s also a really cool story of a brand that’s just iconic, especially in America.
Tell me about this vintage wicker basket. Where does it come from?
It was a housewarming gift, so to speak. I had studied abroad in London and a good friend of mine from school was studying abroad there when I first moved to New York. Fortnum & Mason is a huge luxury grocery store founded in the 1700s and loved by Royals. When I was in London I bought a tea which they served for Kate and William’s wedding.
Anyway, my friend sent me this – they’re called baskets, and they come full of things like jam, tea, cookies, and crackers. On top, F&M is painted black, short for Fortnum & Mason. It’s a basic shiny wicker basket, but there is a handle so you can carry it as a picnic basket if you want, and there are also two leather straps and buckles, so once closed, it looks elegant and polished. This is the perfect size for storage.
It always reminds me of my friend and of the time I studied in London. I have had him for years and he accompanied me from apartment to apartment.
What is he going through at the moment?
I have a whole collection of candles, so this is where I store my unused candles. Growing up, my mom was never a fan of having candles at home, because we had pets. But I have become a candle madman; they just bring such a feeling of peace. In my job, I work with a lot of brands and do a lot of gift guides, so I just have an influx of candles that come from work, which is always wonderful.
In the past, I have used it as a souvenir basket – to store cards, photos, blankets, things like that. I like it because it’s beautiful enough to be left out, but it’s functional; I keep things there that I can reach easily. You would never know what is hiding inside.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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